The slim, 8Mp Casio Exilim EX-Z150 point-and-shoot camera aims for the teen-friendly sweet spot of slick looks and functionality.

In our tests, photos yielded good exposure much of the time. Our shots exhibited good colour and sharpness under outdoor lighting. The 28mm wide-angle lens was a definite plus; we enjoyed being able to take wider-than-usual wide-angle shots, although the image quality was somewhat lower when we zoomed in to 3X or 4X, the Casio Exilim EX-Z150's maximum optical zoom level.

The Casio Exilim EX-Z150 shone brightly in our battery tests: it fired off 302 shots on a single charge, bettering the vast majority of point-and-shoots we've tested and earning a Very Good rating for battery life.

Our chief complaint lies with the Casio Exilim EX-Z150's spotty focus and frequently slow performance.

The Casio Exilim EX-Z150 is slow to focus and suffers from a bit of shutter delay - often we found we were shooting before or after the lens had found the subject, causing blurred pictures. This was particularly frustrating in low-light settings when in auto mode.

And in our tests, the highest ISO the Casio Exilim EX-Z150 would automatically select was 400, simply not enough to grab a sharp shot in many scenarios other than landscape photography.

For shooting in the dark, the Casio Exilim EX-Z150 offers a high-sensitivity mode for extended ISOs up to 1600, but you must access it through the Best Shots menu. We'd rather not be slowed down hunting for high ISO levels while our subject - be it animal, human, or vegetable - decides whether to wait around during our fumbling.

High-contrast settings also proved a weak spot for the Casio Exilim EX-Z150. We took many test shots in a woodsy setting - admittedly a tough testing ground for many digital cameras, consisting of dark, earthy colours and sometimes bright skies. Areas along high-contrast edges showed wide halos and artifacting that made many of the images unusable. Then again, for a camera in this price range, expecting a dynamic range expander is a tall order.

The flash could sometimes be intense and overwhelming, producing a washed-out subject in some of our test shots. Unfortunately, you can't fine-tune the flash settings; it's either on, off, or in auto mode. However, the Casio Exilim EX-Z150 does offer contrast adjustment, as well as controls for white balance, flash intensity, saturation, and spot-metering modes. We took advantage of all of those control options, and all had a helpful (although not always completely successful) effect.

OUR VERDICT

The Casio Exilim EX-Z150 is fun to shoot with. Its wide-angle lens and big screen were a joy, but the Casio Exilim EX-Z150's shutter lag and slow focus were handicaps that made us use a lot more brain power ("Will this be in focus?") than we'd prefer when taking simple, happy snaps. That said, for an inexpensive camera, the EX-Z150 holds its own and looks awesome doing it - not a bad choice for people not looking to spend a fortune.